THE resilience, selflessness and compassion of the Mitchell Shire community was celebrated at the Broadford Australia Day Festival today.
Locals made the most of a range of food and market stalls at Broadford’s Island Reserve, while Mitchell Shire Council hosted its annual Mitchell Shire Community Awards and a ceremony welcoming new citizens.
Norm Mason was named Mitchell Shire Citizen of the Year for 2022 for his tireless work as a member of the Broadford Cemetery Trust.
Mr Mason is one of the trust’s longest-serving members, joining in 1989 and serving as a committee member until September 2021.
He is the longest-serving chairman in the trust’s recorded history and was a statutory representative at most funerals from 1993 to 2016. He also ensured correct grave locations and preparations were correct and liaised with funeral directors and families.
As secretary, Mr Mason secured grants to improve the cemetery, especially the paving, cremation walls and IT equipment.
The rose garden at the Piper Street frontage to the cemetery was planned, planted and tended by Mr Mason and his wife Evelyn for many years.
Tatiana Yousif was named Mitchell Shire Young Citizen of the Year for her work assisting the Kilmore Miniature Railway, where she has volunteered for more than three years.
Tatiana, 12, helps the group with ticket selling, setting up and cleaning on running days and working bees.
She also helps the 1st Kilmore Joey Scout Group, where she has been volunteering and served as a youth member for four years.
Community Event of the Year was awarded to Seymour Local Aboriginal Network for its NAIDOC Week event in July.
NAIDOC Week is an annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The event was one of only a few major events to operate successfully in Mitchell Shire since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting hundreds of community members.
The theme of NAIDOC Week in 2021 was Heal Country, and the event was built around promoting environmental sustainability and connection to country.
As well as more than 200 community members, the event attracted health and service organisations and community groups with stalls and activities offering information and fun for participants.
It allowed community members, health and community service organisations, businesses and professionals to engage, network and celebrate.
Seymour Local Aboriginal Network members were not in attendance at the Broadford event. Mitchell Shire councillor Fiona Stevens said in recognition of the fact that January 26 was a day of mourning for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – marking the beginning of the forcible European colonisation of Australia – a certificate would be presented to representatives of the network at a more appropriate time.
Love In Action Wallan was named Community Group of the Year for its tireless work to support disadvantaged people in the Wallan region.
Love In Action, which also has a branch in Broadford, began in a Wallan lounge room more than six years ago but has grown from supporting six families to more than 320.
The group provides emergency non-perishable food, clothing and essential goods for people in need of assistance including those experiencing family violence and/or homelessness.
Love In Action also hosts activities and events for socially isolated people, such as Christmas Day meals.
Organisers said demand had increased sharply during the past two years as the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on local families.
At the outset of the pandemic the group supported community members experiencing economic hardship and isolation, and collaborated with Mickleham Sikh Volunteers to bring warm meals to people in need in Mitchell Shire, including culturally appropriate meals.
The Access and Inclusion Champion Award went to Mitchell Multicultural Community Association, which teamed up with local businesses to help people in need as part of the 2021 Mitchell Diwali Festival.
The association organised a pay-it-forward meal drive to help people impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
Community members could purchase a meal from local businesses that could be picked up by people in need or delivered to them by volunteers.
In addition to the Mitchell Shire community awards, Broadford festival organisers also presented the local Broadford Outstanding Citizen Award to the 1st Broadford Scout Group.
The group was lauded for its community work, and group leader Craig Waters said was ‘very humbling’.
Festival organiser Rose King said she was pleased with a strong crowd, although she believed many older people had opted to stay at home because of concerns about the heat and COVID-19.